I started writing some reflections about what I have learnt through the lockdowns in June 2020, and now suddenly it is March 2021; one year since the virus started wreaking havoc globally.
Phrases such as covid, lockdown, new varriant, tiers, and social distancing are now all part of our everyday language. Sanitiser has become a staple in our handbags, that is when we are able to get out for some essential shopping. Face masks are also becoming a bit of a fashion accessory; seriously, I got quite excited when I found some really pretty designs lately!
When the pandemic began, or lockdown 1.0, I wrote about what it was like self-isolating with a baby as we had recently come back from Spain and had developed symptoms of COVID-19. We had no idea whether did have it, but if we did the symptoms were mild and passed quickly. So we choose to self-isolate as per the guidance. It was a difficult time, but what I didn’t realise was that an even more difficult time was to come.
It has now been one year since that holiday and and we have been living in and out of various lockdowns, circuit breakers and a tiered systemed imposed by the UK Government. One year ago we had an almost 6 month old baby and now we have an a nearly 18 month old toddler. I honestly still can’t get my head around that.
This has lead me to having a period of reflection on what I have learnt in the lockdown.
Before you stop reading and think I am about to rabbit on about learning a new language, talk about endless baking of banana bread, or practicing yoga and mindfulness. I did not do any of those things*
I am a parent of a small child, and I honestly think that unless you’re single, and have been furloughed with all the time in the world, it really isn’t possible.
“We may all be in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat”
Lockdown has been difficult, and not just for me but for everyone.
I read somewhere recently a phrase that really stuck with me. It was that we may all be in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat.
There are people that have literally lost everything; businesses, jobs and even their homes. Although my husband has not been able to work for the past year, thanks to their being zero events happening. We are thankful that I am still employed and that we have warm home, with food on the table daily.
It isn’t like this for everyone however. Foodbanks have seen an increase in demand in this past year, and I fear that we are on the brink of one of the biggest mental health crises for a long time. The effects of this crisis will continue long after lockdown and for many years to come sadly.
So what have I learnt and what have I been doing?
I am more social than I realised
I am not the biggest social butterfly. In fact, I would say that I am a bit of an introvert, and can be quite reserved around most people, with a small social circle. However, what I did realise throughout these lockdowns is that I do need social contact, and boy did I miss the hugs and coffee dates with friends and family.
Part of this realisation came when I finally got to go to the post office, and saw another human being and had a brief “hi, how are you” conversation. It felt amazing.
When lockdown eased slightly in the summer months, I delighted in the fact of being able to get outside in the sun, and grab a takeaway coffee and cake with a friend.
They aren’t all in the same household?! They aren’t social distancing! Look at their mask – its not even covering their chin.
Sound familiar? Yup, we have all done our fair share of lockdown judging I can imagine. Then we probably had a lot of people judging us, especially if we ‘broke the rules’
I met up with my dad at the end June, after not seeing him since January and we had a short meeting (in a motorway service station car park in the rain) we had a brief hug and I let him hold our baby. It was bliss, but I knew that if I had posted photos of our meeting others would or could have judged us or critised. So I withheld on posting them publically, as yes we did break the rules.
Becoming a pro with video chats
Like the rest of the world. Video chats being apart of everyday life.
We probably have all said, or been told “you’re on mute!” and tried to make ourselves look half decent for a work meeting, whilst wearing leggings and slipper boots.
In some ways, the video chats have been great. My family have been able to watch our baby grow into a toddler, and have joined in with us during activities like bath and story time.
In others not so much. It has made our little one a little more au fait with technology. Now she enjoys sitting on our lap watching videos of herself, or photos, and will scream and cry when we take the iPad off her.
I definately do not think she would have as much screen time as she has had if it weren’t for the pandemic (or that is what my pre mother ideal would have been).
I baked, but not as much as I thought I would
When the whole world was baking banana bread, I thought I’d be joining in on a regular basis, but instead I spent most of the summer weaning my baby, which at times did involve baking baby friendly muffins, but not a banana bread in sight. In fact I made my first (chocolate) banana bread about 1 month ago (*so perhaps technically I did bake banana bread in the lockdown).
I got more into baking again during the later lockdowns in the autumn and winter, when I was back to work, and our little one was able to join in and mess the place with me. I also enjoyed cooking more meals from scratch and trying new things. Mainly as we weren’t able to go for meals out, and our menu plan was becoming a little tiresome.
Sleep training was not for us
A lot of our time in lockdown has been spent trying to get our child to self settle and sleep through the night (note: she still doesn’t). I read books, had apps, changed feeding times and tried various methods and nothing. So lockdown was spent (and still is) in some semi permanent zombie like state.
A trip to the local garden centre was a highlight of the year
Ok, perhaps it wasn’t the highlight of the year, but it was up there. I remember when things started to open up again, I got rather excited. Like we could go somewhere and get a takeaway coffee and cake and see something new beyond or local neighbourhood and park. Then when more things opened again and we could eat out (eat out to help out anyone?) it felt like things were getting back to some sort of semi normal. Then boom – the Autumn came and we were right back to square one.
Despite the lockdowns, as restrictons eased we managed to travel beyond our little home town.
I remember the first time we actually left our area and drove out to the countryside. It truely felt like we were off on a holiday.
We travelled to Northern Ireland twice in August and again in Decemeber (just before we went into tier 4.
We also had a small staycation in Cornwall, before I finished my Maternity Leave, which again was wonderful and felt somewhat normal. Apart from the distancing and face masks.
This year has gone by so quick!
Ok so this is a statement that I have said, and heard. In some ways yes, this year does feel like it has gone fast. We are right back to March again, and to where it all started. But then we often used to comment on how quick one year had gone in previous years.
I think having a child really makes you realise how fast a year can pass. For us, it felt like one moment our little girl was this diddy little baby, who you could just put down on a play mat and let her amuse herself. To suddenly her being a toddler with a very strong will.
In a lot of ways, it has felt slow, espeically at the beginning. Not knowing when I was next see my parents was the toughest part (it is even now), and watching the months pass by, knowing how much we were all missing out on.
Which leads me to this final reflection:
I grieved a lot for what we missed out on
For me, the hardest part about this pandemic was that I didn’t really get a normal Maternity Leave. I was so looking forward to going to all the baby groups, getting to know some new mums, taking my baby to swiming lessons and having family visit monthly to see and watch our girl grow up in person.
Now that my maternity leave is over, I still grieve for these things. Our little girl only really knows my husband and I, and her grandma. When we go to the park, she will stare at other children and is very cautious. She does not go to nursery, so her social interactions are very limited.
I am sure she will be fine, but just seeing other children in the park makes me sad to think that she should be playing alongside others her ages and experiencing so much more.
But despite all of this
I am glad we are all still here. My family are well and are healthy. So many families have lost loved ones. So many have been unable to see anyone due to shielding for example, and as I said earlier the other losses like jobs and homes is all too real for so many.
I am sure one day we will look back on 2020-21 and talk about how much of a strange time it was. For now, we can just look forward to seeing family, that next big hug from a friend, having lunch out at a cafe and even driving an hour up the road to visit a wildlife centre.
To all those who may read this blog, I hope you remain safe, and healthy.